Wine barrel lifetime costs

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

Boatboy24

No longer a newbie, but still clueless.
Joined
Mar 18, 2012
Messages
14,787
Reaction score
14,047
Location
DC Suburbs
An oak barrel provides valuable microxidation and concentration - this smooths out and mellow a wine in a way that can't be replicated in SS or glass.
 

bkisel

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2013
Messages
3,681
Reaction score
1,807
Interesting post but...

IMHO, a totally slanted article from a Stainless Steel manufacturer even if factually true. Also, the article seems pointed towards commercial wine makers not hobbyists.

Personally I've not bothered with barrels because I started this hobby 4 years ago at 68 years of age. So for me the factor to date influencing my (non) barrel buying has simply been age not cost.
 
Last edited:

ibglowin

Moderator
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
Jul 7, 2009
Messages
23,107
Reaction score
19,034
Location
Northern Nuevo Mexico
I think the biggest overlooked pieces of info that a newbie winemaker doesn't often realize is that once the barrel is neutral you don't have to throw it away. You just add oak in another form, staves, cubes, beans. As long as you take good care of the barrel, clean and sanitize it properly you can keep using it (almost ) indefinitely.

Its the micro-ox and the concentration though evaporation (that this highly slanted article) try's to paint as a liability of purchasing a barrel that in reality takes the wine to a whole other level and one that could NEVER be achieved by a SS VAT.
 

jburtner

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2016
Messages
577
Reaction score
369
And - Barrels make wine taste better - So I've read on the internets ;)

I'll be getting a barrel before I get a similar stainless - I do have quite a few glass carboys at this point...

Cheers!
-johann
 

Mismost

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
955
Reaction score
718
I don't know why, but barrels just hold zero interest to me. It's hard enough cleaning carboys, barrels have to be a real PITA. Cleaning was the one area I thought the article was really messed up on....five minutes to clean a barrel? 3 minutes to clean a SS? BS....takes longer than that just to get ready to start cleaning.

Sticking with my carboys, chips, sticks, and staves...saves me money, time, and space.
 

JohnT

Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Feb 9, 2010
Messages
10,014
Reaction score
5,774
Agree with all the above!

- I disagree with the costs and there is no mention of volume.

A 500 liter tank, I believe, costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,200-$1,300. A barrel (225) costs somewhere around $400.00 (or that is what the last two new 225's cost me). so 500 liters would be $888.00. This is exactly opposite from what is in that article.

Yes, there is evaporation. That is the point!!! Evaporation equals a concentration of flavors. The author also avoids mentioning the beneficial micro-oxidation that occurs as well.

I also disagree with the duration of use. You can use barrels well beyond 6 years. There are some wineries that have 100 year old barrels that are still in use. Although you might not get any wood flavor from the barrel, you do still get the very beneficial evaporation and micro oxidation. You can always go with an alternative form of oak (like mini-staves) if wood is what you need.

- It looks as though this was written by a company that is trying to sell you stainless steel. It is not written by someone that is trying to advise you on how to make better wine!
 

NorCal

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Apr 17, 2014
Messages
3,356
Reaction score
3,770
Location
Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
I have barrels and flex tanks. There is something magic about the 60 gallon barrel. It has the right surface area to volume, the right amount of evaporation, the right amount of micro ox...it is the world standard, for a reason. My barrel was $350 + $40 delivery (may be tax too). Say three usages, 180 gallons = 900 bottles, 50 cents per bottle. More expensive than staves, spirals, but not bank busting either.
 

Johnd

Senior Member
WMT Supporter
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Messages
6,834
Reaction score
7,028
Location
South Louisiana
Been in Napa for a week. Number of wineries producing excellent wine aged in stainless steel kegs instead of wood barrels----zero. Number producing excellent wine by aging in real wood barrels, mostly French---every one I've been to.
 

JimHarris

Junior
Joined
Jul 1, 2016
Messages
5
Reaction score
3
I think the biggest overlooked pieces of info that a newbie winemaker doesn't often realize is that once the barrel is neutral you don't have to throw it away. You just add oak in another form, staves, cubes, beans. As long as you take good care of the barrel, clean and sanitize it properly you can keep using it (almost ) indefinitely.
That is a great point about neutral barrels
 

stickman

Veteran Winemaker
Joined
Jun 16, 2014
Messages
1,779
Reaction score
1,867
At least for commercial wineries, there was no consideration for the fact that the sale price for barrel aged wines is generally higher than for wines only aged in stainless; higher margins.
 

JimHarris

Junior
Joined
Jul 1, 2016
Messages
5
Reaction score
3
At least for commercial wineries, there was no consideration for the fact that the sale price for barrel aged wines is generally higher than for wines only aged in stainless; higher margins.
I would be interested in if there really are higher margins. I know the wines sell for a lot more, but there are higher costs in producing it.

The expense of buying new barrels frequently plus the evaporation leading to wine loss could potentially make a high priced barrel wine just as profitable as a lower tier wine aged in SS.

Just a theory, would love someone who knows the finical side to chime in
 

JohnT

Moderator
Super Moderator
Joined
Feb 9, 2010
Messages
10,014
Reaction score
5,774
I would be interested in if there really are higher margins. I know the wines sell for a lot more, but there are higher costs in producing it.

The expense of buying new barrels frequently plus the evaporation leading to wine loss could potentially make a high priced barrel wine just as profitable as a lower tier wine aged in SS.

Just a theory, would love someone who knows the finical side to chime in
Speaking from a strictly financial point of view, there is also the prolonged inventory costs. Barrel aging does add to the all over production time which does also come at a price.

I am just glad that not EVERYTHING is ran by accountants.
 

dcbrown73

Clueless Winemaker
Joined
Mar 28, 2016
Messages
1,219
Reaction score
902
I know Flex tanks offer micro-ox, but does it allow evaporation also?

If so, I think I might be more inclined to do that rather than a barrel as I heard to get a real benefit of the barrel. You usually need a full size one. (I do not make that much wine) I heard smaller ones, you really do not get the full benefit due to it will over-oak the wine (too much oak surface area to wine volume) before you get the full benefit (via time spent in the barrel) of micro-ox and evaporation.

I suppose ones the smaller barrel becomes neutral. Then you could just add enough oak and then allow the micro-ox and evaporation to happen.
 

Boatboy24

No longer a newbie, but still clueless.
Joined
Mar 18, 2012
Messages
14,787
Reaction score
14,047
Location
DC Suburbs
I know Flex tanks offer micro-ox, but does it allow evaporation also?

If so, I think I might be more inclined to do that rather than a barrel as I heard to get a real benefit of the barrel. You usually need a full size one. (I do not make that much wine) I heard smaller ones, you really do not get the full benefit due to it will over-oak the wine (too much oak surface area to wine volume) before you get the full benefit (via time spent in the barrel) of micro-ox and evaporation.

I suppose ones the smaller barrel becomes neutral. Then you could just add enough oak and then allow the micro-ox and evaporation to happen.
That becomes a non-factor very quickly. 3-4 months in a 6 gallon barrel is plenty (though I occasionally go 6 with wines from grapes). By the 3rd or 4th wine, you're up to that point without over oaking. After two years, or a bit less, you are neutral.
 

dcbrown73

Clueless Winemaker
Joined
Mar 28, 2016
Messages
1,219
Reaction score
902
That becomes a non-factor very quickly. 3-4 months in a 6 gallon barrel is plenty (though I occasionally go 6 with wines from grapes). By the 3rd or 4th wine, you're up to that point without over oaking. After two years, or a bit less, you are neutral.
What size barrel are you currently using? Also, how difficult are they to maintain compared to say a flex tank?
 

jburtner

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2016
Messages
577
Reaction score
369
I have hesitated on getting a barrell so far because I was not sure if I would have enough wine in production to always keep it full..... I don't think that is ever realistically going to be a problem as I seem to keep between 5-10 carboys full all the time....?

I also want to start doing only grape or frozen must batches - just seems like life is too short not to use best ingredients and as fresh as possible - especially when you are regularly putting 18-24 months of work into the product.

THink from here on when I need more containers I'll do barrells instead of carboy's - Going to try it anyway...

Just my thoughts!

Cheers!
-johann
 

Boatboy24

No longer a newbie, but still clueless.
Joined
Mar 18, 2012
Messages
14,787
Reaction score
14,047
Location
DC Suburbs
What size barrel are you currently using? Also, how difficult are they to maintain compared to say a flex tank?
I can't compare to a flex tank, as I don't have one.

My barrels are all 23L. They are pretty easy to maintain, as long as you keep them full. When I rack a wine out of a barrel, the barrel gets a hot water rinse, then the next wine goes in. Easy, peasy.
 

Johnd

Senior Member
WMT Supporter
Joined
Jun 10, 2015
Messages
6,834
Reaction score
7,028
Location
South Louisiana
I can't compare to a flex tank, as I don't have one.

My barrels are all 23L. They are pretty easy to maintain, as long as you keep them full. When I rack a wine out of a barrel, the barrel gets a hot water rinse, then the next wine goes in. Easy, peasy.
I handle mine the same as Jim, hot water rinse, fill er up. As far as time, my experience is similar, after a few wines and under 2 years, neutral, which was my goal for the 6 gallon barrels. Now my wines are in them for 6 months, so I only run two wines a year through one barrel, adding French oak beans to oak. The 12 gallon barrel is only on its second wine, but I'm liking the bit larger size and will be increasing my batch sizes accordingly.

Next move for me is probably just doing one large batche this year of the best grapes I can find, and filling a full size French barrel and aging around a year. Next year I'll add one barrel and one batch so I can age a wine in 1 new barrel, 1 used barrel, and combine. Probably wishful thinking, but that's where my brain is today..........subject to change.
 

Latest posts

Top